How to Write a College Level Book Report

What is a Book Report?

Book reports are educational reports that deliberate on a book from an objective stand. They have similarities to book reviews but concentrate more on summarizing the work than carrying out an evaluation of it. Usually, book reports explain what happens in a work; their emphasis is principally on providing an account of the main plot, characters, thesis statement, and the main point of the work.

A book summary or a book report, is basically an analysis of the book contents. You write a book report to demonstrate that you fully comprehend the book. A book report should be an objective and informative report describing the book.

While a college or university book report takes a more complex form than the one you did in high or elementary school, it is a way for your professor to evaluate your analytical skills. When you write a book report, you demonstrate that you understand elements such as literary devices, imagery, contexts, and their practical use. It also indicates that you can recognize various themes and concepts within a work of fiction or nonfiction. This is significant as it is used as an indicator to establish if you have absorbed the course material and illustrates your academic growth in your overall program or within that course. A book report is normally written as an expository essay, but it can also be written in other forms, such as a persuasive essay.

Differences between Book Report and Book Review

It is essential to note that a book report is not similar to a book review. There are two major differences between the two, and comprehending what you are required to write will keep you from making mistakes that might cost you precious marks. When assigned a book report, ensure that you submit a book report and not a book review.

First, as mentioned earlier, a book report is an exploration or an analysis of a book or the themes therein. Its purpose is to demonstrate that you understood the book’s context and the report serves as an objective summary. You should not talk about your love for the book or your reasons for disliking a particular character. Instead, provide a summarized analysis of the writer’s work without giving your personal opinion.

Secondly, a book review is a critical assessment or an evaluation of a book. A book review addresses the value of the book and your opinion. For example, would you recommend the book to your classmates or friends? Explain your reasons. If you did not like a particular element, character or think that the entire book is a waste of time, you discuss this in a book review.

Importance of Writing a Book Report

Although we study and carry out a lot of research that might not be applicable after university or college, books reports may be an exception to that. Books, no matter how abstract the theory, teach us about life and human behavior through characters and plots. Comprehending how to recognize the intention of the author through their story will be relevant later on in life. Having the skills and the curiosity to understand a book with a more comprehensive understanding will without a doubt enrich your reading experience.

An effective book report should contain an introduction paragraph mentioning the title of the book, the author, and also include the ideas you will be putting across throughout your body paragraphs. Your main body paragraphs will expound on the ideas that you presented in the introduction, using analysis, summary, and quotes from the book to assist you.

How to Write an Outstanding Book Report

Enjoying a great piece of literature takes one into a new world created by the author. However, your enjoyment of the novel may disintegrate slightly when trying to work out how to write a book report. Analyzing and critiquing novels is an essential skills that will be helpful inside and outside the classroom.

In this guide, we will outline the best strategies to write a book report. It is crucial to note that there is no standard book report outline. Although this is not a step-by-step guide, it can help you get started without difficulty.

  1. Understand the Assignment

When starting out on your book report assignment, it is important to understand exactly what your instructor expects from you. Are you supposed to explore the book’s theme and write an essay on it, or should you write an essay about a certain character? Read the assignment sheet carefully and ensure that you understand all the requirements and instructions. If you are uncertain or have a question about something, do not hesitate to ask your instructor.

  1. Read the Book

Although you might be tempted to take a shortcut by watching a movie adaptation of the book, please resist that urge. By actually reading the book, you will be able to read and understand themes and outline a novel plot, which is an invaluable experience. Reading the book will make you understand the book on an entirely new and more appreciative level. During the reading process of your novel, note down passages or page numbers that relate to the assignment or those that seem to be interesting to talk about.

You can try to understand what the author intends to say by asking yourself the questions below:

  • What is the book’s main theme? The theme is the reason or the meaning behind writing the book. Authors do not usually write for the sake of writing. What was the author’s motivation for writing the novel?
  • How are the characters? Normally, novels are presented from the perspective of the main character (either in the first person or third person), although some have multiple perspectives. Is the character good or do they have flaws? What challenges is the character experiencing? What lessons did you learn during the development of the story?
  • What is the plot in the book? There are many different types of plots and it is useful to the type in your chosen novel to help in your analysis. Some stories are missions, that is, the main character is trying to accomplish an objective. Some stories are about overcoming obstacles, whether external or internal. What type of plot is in the novel and why did the author choose that specific type; according to you.
  1. Write a Great Introduction

After thoroughly reading the book and thinking about the plot, themes, characters, and some excellent quotes, you are now ready to write the book report. Just like any other academic paper, a good book report should have an easy to understand explanatory introduction. When writing your introduction, remember to include the work title, author’s name, and a sentence or two of what you will cover in the report. Although a thesis statement is not a book report requirement, writing one will help keep your paper more focused and help in narrowing down what you will include in the body paragraphs.

When writing a book report, do not express an opinion about the book, that is, whether you liked it or not as it is irrelevant. A book report’s objective is to try and objectively understand the book’s importance and relevance with motifs, characters, themes, etc.

  1. Present the Ideas in your Body Paragraphs

The essence of your book report will be found in the body paragraphs. The paragraphs will develop on the ideas that you stated in the introduction paragraph and let you introduce the novel more comprehensively to your reader.

  1. Summary

Although two book report tasks cannot be similar, it is a probability that your instructor might want to see some form of summarization in your book report. The summary of the novel you write should not be too lengthy. If your instructor expects a five-page book report, your summary should not be four and a half pages. As a standard rule, the summary should take up 1/3 of the paper to enable the reader understands your analysis.

  1. Analysis

After writing a summary of the novel, you can now start the actual analysis of it. How does the author present a particular idea throughout the novel? An excellent way to demonstrate how the author is proving their point is by using direct quotations from the book, which you believe to be a good showcase.

In the analysis, discuss the character and the theme, that is, the author’s reasons for writing the book. No two analyses can be the same. This is what makes literary criticism and book reports so fascinating. Every student assigned the task will read the novel through their personal experiences and lenses and interpret the novel in a completely different way than the author intended to achieve.

Once more, it is essential to keep going back to your instructions for the book report to know exactly what you should be discussing. Paying attention to the provided instructions is a significant step towards succeeding in writing a book report.

  1. Conclusion

As with other essay conclusions, concentrate on neatly wrapping things up. Although it may be tempting to just say in the conclusion that you loved or hated the novel, it won’t make a very fascinating paragraph. When writing a book report conclusion, think about why this novel is significant. If you did not like the novel, think about the reasons why. Meditate on how the author presents his or her idea. Should the book be widely read to acquire a critical understanding of a subject? Your reasons? Can you recommend the book to someone else? The field of book reports usually seeks out the writer’s opinion, therefore, ensure that your voice is heard.

  1. Revising

Like any other academic paper that you write, it is vital to reread your report and revise it before you turn in your final copy. It is extremely rare to write a paper that does not have errors or needs reworking. After finishing writing the first draft, get your eyes off the paper and take a short break. Get back to the paper after your break with a pair of fresh eyes and read it through for spelling and grammar mistakes, and also for content. Ensure that everything is very explanatory and that it makes absolute sense. Nevertheless, your assumption should be that your reader has not read the book yet. Therefore, you should make sure that you explain it well enough to someone who has never read even a single sentence of the book and still make them understand.

If you are not sure about entire passages or even sentences in your book report, as your instructor or a friend to look at your work. Sometimes, it is helpful to seek an external opinion to assist in identifying things that you might have missed.

The Structure of an Excellent Book Report

When writing a solid book report, consider the following things.

  • The Plot Summary

The plot summary should be a concise retelling of the primary storyline. As mentioned before, assume that your reader is hearing about the book for the first time, even if your entire class has been assigned the same book. Sometimes your professor will require you to write the plot summary in your introduction, but mostly, it is written as an individual body paragraph.

It is essential to keep the summary to the point and brief. You do not have to disclose every single detail to your reader. However, tell your reader about the essential points that connect the story, and give them an idea of what you are deliberating about in the paper. Also, inform your reader about specific characters if you intend to talk about them afterwards, therefore, briefly introduce the characters in the summary section.

  • Citations and Quotations

If you use quotations from the novel, make sure that you provide an explanation each time you cite something. You should illustrate the link between the quote and the theme or the idea you are putting across. This is how you show that you really comprehend the material and you are not just using quotes randomly. Even if you’ve not been asked to provide quotations, always include a few of them and remember to cite the author appropriately.

  • Formatting

Most students struggle with formatting their academic assignment. You should be extra cautious when creating your works cited or bibliography page. You can easily lose marks for using the wrong formatting style for your book report. If your professor does not provide a particular formatting style, stick to the MLA format. The MLA format is the most common style for humanities and English essays.

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